Are Canadian corporations and their CEO’s cowardly? This is the question I heard Michael Enright ask in an October broadcast of The Sunday Edition. Two items spurred this inquiry:
In 2012, while Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mr. Carney admonished corporate Canada for “not putting money to work”, essentially for hoarding cash reserves which he referred to as dead money. Mr. Carney characterized this level of caution by Canadian CEOs as excessive. You might be interested to know that the dead money figure as of Q2 2016 is $488,758,000,000.
This summer Deloitte published a study that identifies Canadian corporations as lacking courage, specifically the “…need to get over our fear of risk to succeed”.
Let’s think about this for a moment. Have we actually arrived at a time and place in history where business leaders, leaders in the current Canadian economy, no longer know how to make a loonie – no longer know how to lead?
If Canadian corporations don’t know what intrepid leadership looks like then my colleagues and I would like to help map this out. We know that this talent profile exists in the people employed in businesses throughout Canada. Here’s what we’re looking for.
The Profile of Courageous Leaders
According to our research bold, innovative and courageous leadership is characterized by 8 competencies:
- Drives Achievement – Demonstrates an outstanding need to achieve exceptional challenges under competitive scenarios and is prepared to make lifestyle sacrifices for the sake of career advancement.
- Sustains Profitability – Uses financial profitability, personal wealth and market share growth as the fundamental factors to judge one’s own and others performance on the basis of measured return-on-investment/cost-benefit analysis.
- Seeks Innovation – Thinks expansively and combines novel ideas in unique ways to generate innovative solutions.
- Embraces Change – Demonstrates the ability and willingness to adapt, contribute and support rapid change in response to different problem scenarios or objectives.
- Initiates Independently – Demonstrates a preference for taking action, pursuing high risks and initiating projects independently of prior approval or requests.
- Promotes Compelling Vision – Takes a longer-term and a purposeful approach to finding solutions, in order to actualize a more meaningful or worthwhile strategic goal.
- Maintains Accountability – Demonstrates an attitude that is defined by taking responsibilities and loyalties very seriously. Assumes a sense of personal accountability for one’s direct results as well as co-workers’ actions, without seeking to blame or provide excuses for failures.
- Builds Consensus – Enjoys working as part of a team. Emphasis is on appropriate compromise, demonstrating tact, maintaining emotional control and interpersonal tolerance rather than making demands.
Yes, the market brings uncertainty. Yes, the market impact of the recent election in U.S. is unknown. But when will we have times of complete certainty? Probably not soon! Canadian leaders need to demonstrate courage now.
Start by taking a good look at yourself and your leadership profile. Be honest in determining which competencies are effortless and effortful, based on the profile listed above. Once you know that, you can work on your growth plan and identify who needs to surround you to complement your profile. You and your team will both know and value the critical elements of courageous leadership.
These specific actions can support leaders in demonstrating courage to resuscitate the dead money and generate returns for the Canadian economy, the organizations, the employees and for themselves.
Case in point: Royal Canadian Mint
Ironically in an era where electronic fund transfers are dominant, the organization which literally makes loonies has reinvented itself by tapping new markets for new profitability. The RCM services and products not only span international currency consulting and provision, they crowd source designs, craft collectables on themes including Star Wars, sell direct to consumers online, and yes, you can download the app. In 2015 the Government of Canada received $53 million in dividends. Not bad for a Crown Corporation!